Wednesday, Mar 19 2014 06:00 AM

Tech Wire: Protecting your online identity

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Matthew Sgherzi

We have all heard the stories about identity theft and how it has caused those affected by it to be set back, financially, for years. While we all take steps to protect ourselves against identity theft, while many are not even aware of their online identity. Your online identity, left unprotected, can be very damaging. It can cause you to lose or not get offered a job, lose your public confidence, lose business and have damaging gossip spread about you.

Your online identity could be damaged by someone with malicious intentions posting negative statements about you, opening up fake accounts claiming to be you (on Facebook, YouTube, etc.) or basically libeling you through a blog, forum or elsewhere.

Steps to Take

The way someone can impact your online identity easier is due to the fact that you may have no online presence at all. Many do you not Facebook, YouTube or make posts online. Therefore, anything negative becomes the focal point, making it easier for someone to damage your identity. There are steps you can take to fight back. While these steps may be troublesome and time consuming, your online identity is important and should be protected.

Contact the Individual Websites

Contacting the support of the website where the posts were made is the first step. If someone falsified a Facebook or YouTube account and claims to be you, your first step should be to contact Facebook or YouTube directly. Most times, the website support is willing to assist when they believe you are being defamed and attacked.

Contact the Major Search Engines

The next step is to contact the major search engines and ask for each page to be removed. If you have not done so already, do an Internet search for your name under the major search engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo, Ask, etc. If you find the results pointing to pages where people are posting damaging material regarding you, and after contacting those individual sites, you need to have the search engines manually remove them. Each major search engine has a form to fill out to remove sites that are no longer on the Internet (assuming the individual sites have complied and removed the damaging posts/accounts).

Legal Route

If none of the above succeeds, you may, unfortunately, be forced to go a legal route. Online identity reputation services are now being offered by companies. These services basically just post positive content about you, hoping to "drown out" the negativity. If you do not have a blog, Facebook account or post on any websites using your name, these services are a great idea in preserving your reputation from would-be people looking to falsify your good name.

Your online identity, in this day in the information age, says a lot about you. It is important that you are pro-active in protecting, defending and fighting for it to be clear, positive and truthful.

MATTHEW SGHERZI lives in Tehachapi where he has operated an IT business since 2007 (tehachapicomputers.com).

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